How Mindfulness taught me I had the power all along
Thinking about getting serious about meditation?
You’ve probably heard that you should be more mindful. But what does that even mean? How can a little mindfulness in your life give you everything you’ve always wanted? Keep reading...
I don’t know where to start this post. I owe so much to mindfulness and the people sharing the practice I don’t know if I can make it justice.
Let me see if I can start at the beginning of my mindfulness journey. Ten years ago I attended a seminar on mindfulness with my mother, who is a psychotherapist. It was a one-day event and it had talks with mindfulness teachers, yoga, and different group workshops.
I was pregnant with my first child. I was barely keeping up due to being a tired and heavily pregnant lady. Phew. I remember falling asleep during the meditation sessions. Not understanding the point of it all even though I got the feeling that it would probably be good for me in some way.
Little did I know that ten years later it would change my life.
Two years ago I decided that I would get serious about my meditation practice. I had been dabbling with it for a long time, a little here and there, but I wanted to up my game. I’d probably read somewhere that ”meditation will boost your career” or something like that (heh!). I set the bar super low and made the intention to meditate at least 5 minutes per day. That was enough I thought. Gah, sitting still for 5 minutes and just breathing, how would I cope?
I searched for meditation audios and downloaded the Mindfulness App. I remembered the term mindfulness from that seminar ten years back. This app will do! -I thought. Every day I would try some of the guided meditations. I had no real clue who all these people were. Some names appeared to be familiar names like Jon Kabat-Zinn and Jack Kornfield. Soon I found Tara Brach and her meditations quickly became my favorites. I remember listening to one of her meditations on "Inner Wisdom" one morning. It was such a profound experience I burst into tears.
Tara Brach had that effect on me (and still has). Many of her meditations would leave me raw and emotional. Some days I didn’t know how to deal with all the things that would come up. But I kept at it. I started exploring some of the other guided meditations.
I wandered into Rick Hanson and his powerful meditations. I would rather call them brain training since they exhausted my brain muscles completely. Slowly I noticed small changes in my behavior. I would catch myself being able to ”pause” in my thinking.
I started noticing that I didn’t react to a situation but was able to respond instead.
Sometimes even with clarity. Some days I would even be able to ”see” my thinking, like an observer. Exactly what the mindfulness teachers had been talking about all along. Which comes down to the definition of mindfulness. ”The practice of calmly paying attention to our thoughts and feelings, without judgment or reaction”.
Tim Ferriss, in his book Tools of Titans, writes that mindfulness is a ”meta-skill” that improves everything else. "You're starting your day by practicing focus when it doesn’t matter (sitting on a couch for 10 minutes) so that you can focus better later when it does matter”. This is so profound. To be able to shift your attention and the ability to be an observer. Taking a ”witness perspective” is THE single most important skill. Not only in freeing yourself from destructive habits but to everything in how you do life.
The first time I was able to walk away from the pull of food (after many failed attempts) was exhilarating.
The surge of joy and sense of accomplishment that I felt was monumental and I felt probably more pride than all three times I had given birth combined (no, seriously it’s almost the truth ha!). I had almost given up hope that the ability to be indifferent to food was for me. I had tried it time and time again but would always fold when the urge surfaced, but this time I saw it.
After all the months of mindfulness practice, my mind took the witness perspective and I didn’t act on the urge. I was mind blown that I’ve had the power all along. That I always had had it in me. That it was just a matter of practicing and the brain would rewire itself. It only took one time because from there I had seen it. I knew I could do it. I knew it was possible.
It’s like learning to ride a bike. Once you feel the balance, the sense of ”getting it” then there’s no going back. You can’t lose it. Nobody can take it away from you. You have a new superpower and it will forever change your life.
So much has happened since that day. My skill improved rapidly. Today my mind is able to refocus on where I want it to go. Today I choose to focus on living my life with gratitude and joy and living life with food freedom.